Three Books in Three Years by Renée Rosen
Author Renée Rosen on how she went from being a book-a-decade kind of writer to writing three novels in three years.
White Collar Girl is my third historical novel, which I’ve miraculously published in the last three years. I say miraculously because back in 2012 when we sold Dollface, I didn’t think this would have been possible. Mainly because I was a far cry away from being a prolific writer. My first historical novel, Dollface, had taken me 10 years to write and a young adult novel before that took 17 years to complete. I had convinced myself that I was a book-a-decade kind of writer, if I was lucky. But all that was about to change.
I remember it was the spring of 2013 and I had just turned in my Dollface revisions when I learned that Penguin Random House wanted a second book from me also set in Chicago. I was thrilled and put together a proposal for what would become What the Lady Wants. Imagine my reaction when they said they wanted me to deliver this book within a year. I was elated and completely panic-stricken.
I got busy right away, researching with one hand and writing with the other. I paid regular visits to the Chicago History Museum and The Newberry Library, putting on protective white gloves and sorting through old photographs, diaries and whatever else I could find. I kept writing logs and was determined to hit 2,000 words a day—even if that meant forgoing contractions. I always tell people that for a year I was never more than three-feet away from my laptop. I even took my computer with me to dinner parties just in case an idea came to me. All I could think about was my hitting my deadline.
In the midst of this I was getting ready to release Dollface and there were things like copyedits and promotional blogs and industry events that I had to attend. I was so excited about the publication of Dollface but, at the same time, terrified that I might not be able to deliver my next novel on time. Dollface came out in November of 2013 and What the Lady Wants was due to my editor in December 2013. It was a real juggling act but with mere minutes to spare, I made my deadline. I turned in a manuscript with a beginning, middle and end along with a note to my editor saying, “I know this needs a lot of love.” That was an understatement. The love required tearing down the entire book and rewriting it over the next three months. As it turned out, rewriting What the Lady Wants under such a tight deadline was the best learning experience for me and the lessons I learned on that rewrite have served me well in my future books.
So let’s fast forward to spring of 2014. Dollface was out and I was prepping What The Lady Wants to go into production. And that meant it was time to get busy writing a new book. We agreed that book would be White Collar Girl, the story about an ambitious female reporter in 1950s working at the Chicago Tribune. This book was due in January 2015. But because of what I’d learned on the last book, the writing of White Collar Girl was a completely different experience. I actually left the laptop behind and even went on vacation. Amazing! I started working on White Collar Girl in May and by November I took time off to promote What The Lady Wants and then got back to work and made my January deadline knowing that I was turning over a solid manuscript to my editor.
So now it’s November and once again I’m up to my eyeballs in the next book while promoting White Collar Girl. I’ve discovered that old saw is true, work expands to fill the time allotted. I also learned that writing three books in three years requires being organized (which I’m really not) and most importantly having understanding and supportive family and friends. Yes, there was a lot of overlap among books and yes, it’s been a balancing act but honestly, I wouldn’t have changed a thing.
Renée Rosen is the bestselling author of What the Lady Wants, Dollface, and the young adult novel, Every Crooked Pot. She lives in Chicago where she is at work on a new novel. Learn more and order White Collar Girl here.
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